Drill and Kill is a phrase educators use to describe teaching and learning methods used to master a set of items.


  • List of muscles or bones in the body
  • Multiplication Table
  • Periodic Table of Elements

Many educators dismiss drill and kill because it promotes memorization or rote learning, as opposed to deeper, conceptual learning. To people on this side of the issue, drill and practice has the potential to decrease a student's willingness to learn.

Proponents view this issue quite differently.

As noted by Foster (2008 - 2010), every sport requires drill and practice to achieve excellence. Playing an instrument requires drill and practice to become skilled. Reading also requires practice to become proficient. Students who practice become more skilled. Those who do not practice tend to fall behind. Proponents also assert that the right kind of repeated practice does promote deep learning.

According to Roblyer and Doering (2010), research has shown that drill-and-practice software activities can allow the effective rehearsal students need to transfer newly learned information into long-term memory. Many teachers feel that such practice gives students more rapid recall and use of basic skills as prerequisites to advanced concepts. Some benefits of drill-and-practice software include:

Immediate feedback – Unlike practicing assignments on paper, software programs provide quick response to their solutions. Additionally, if solutions are found to be incorrect, the quick response from the program reduces the risk of the student memorizing the wrong skills due to the time lag associated practicing skills on paper.

Motivation – Computer programs offer students a non-judgmental environment to practice their skills which also works around impediments such as poor handwriting skills or a dislike for writing altogether. By removing these obstacles motivation is allowed to soar.

Saving teacher time – Since teachers do not have to present or grade drill and practice, students can practice on their own while the teacher addresses other student needs.

Implications for educators:

Drill and practice allows students to develop confidence in themselves as learners and competence in a desired skill. When properly coordinated in an overall learning strategy teachers should find it to be another valuable asset in their educational tool box for success. However, for drill and practice to remain effective it must not degenerate into a mindless activity, but must hold real meaning from the learner's point of view.
Teaching (5th ed.) Boston: Allyn & Bacon, pp. 80 - 81.
Foster, K. (2008 - 2010). Skills Development - Drill and Kill? Sound Bytes Reading - Teach anyone to read.
Retrieved from http://www.soundbytesreading.com/drill.html